Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's $22K PER YEAR (not once)

At Tuesday night's Woodstock City Council a Mass Notification System (MNS) was discussed and approved. There were considerable discussion about whether a recession is the right time to spend $22,000 for an electronic system of notifying residents of emergencies, and Councilman Ralph Webster said there was already a system in place. I don't recall his exact words about the state of operation of that existing system, but I got the idea that it's not functioning at this time (or not functioning properly).

I expressed my opinion to the City Council that spending so much time on a $22,000 decision didn't make sense to me. I suspect my disgust showed quite plainly.

And I neglected to ask what had seemed the most important question to me: "Was the $22,000 just the cost of negotiating a contract with Blackboard Connect or was it the total cost of the system?"

I walked away from the meeting believing that $22,000 was the one-time cost for a system to be purchased by the City of Woodstock to inform residents of true emergencies. Has there ever been one here?

On Wednesday morning I called City Hall and learned that the $22,000 is the estimated annual "not-to-exceed" cost. What the Council approved was the MNS that will cost 22 grand every year!

Perhaps I was thinking about what I was going to say, when I should have been listening, but I did not hear one person at the front of the room say this was an annual cost. Over the next 20 years that's almost half a million dollars. And it will be, with system upgrades, maintenance, inflation and population growth.

The City Council was less than transparent with its public consideration of this project!


Another Lawyer said...

Is this a phone system? Because very few of the people I know have a land line anymore. I mean, you have to be REALLY OLD to have a land line these days.

Gus said...

Good question. I don't know the answer. They might in cahoots with the folks who want to build the 1,500-foot tower at MCC. Then they could just beam the messages directly into all the brains in Woodstock.

Gus said...

And what about VoIP (Vonage, MagicJack, etc.) and those who have no phone at all?